One of the most rewarding parts of travel is meeting like-minded, interesting people who are on an epic journey, just like you. From those you meet in your hostel, to those you work or study with, to those you meet on the street, the people who you meet during an adventure often turn out to be some of the most incredible friends you’ll ever have.
Travel, especially alone, is a lifestyle completely different to anything I’ve ever known. You don’t just experience euphoria and excitement, but anxiety and worry. Living out of a suitcase for months on end can be frustrating, and so can living far away from home while studying or working abroad. The people who support you through the tough times are usually ones you’ve only just met. The special bond you share through your love of adventure and your experience travelling is something that should never be taken for granted, and should always be appreciated.
SUMMER CAMP COMPADRES
When I travelled to the U.S.A to work at a summer camp, I knew absolutely no-one, and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Within moments of arriving at orientation in L.A, I met a girl from Wollongong, where I had been living for a few months working before heading off on my camp adventure. Marissa and I got along instantly, realised that we lived minutes from one another back home and had plenty of mutual friends, yet had never met. How strange that we both had to travel to the other side of the world before we could become friends! The universe is funny like that.
When we got to camp, we quickly became friends with a lot of people, but our core group of a few girls and a few guys were the ones who made my experience so much better, and these are people I still see and talk to now. Maybe not as much as I used to, but that’s the thing with travel friendships – you can go months or years without speaking, but the bond created can never be broken. To Marissa, Sheridan, Shannon, Matt and Jay – you guys are all legends.
STUDY ABROAD BUDDIES
When I studied abroad, I knew a couple of people in my college town of Boulder, CO before I arrived. Kat, the wonderful person who put me up at her new house, then helped me move into my dorm room, had studied abroad at my university in Australia the previous semester, so I was lucky to know her when I arrived in Boulder. She helped me meet new people, namely her super-fun roommates, and also helped me settle in while I made some new friends of my own. Not to mention giving me tips of the best bars, restaurants, and activities to do while I was in Colorado. Thanks Kat, I’ve never forgotten how amazing you were when I first arrived in Boulder, and I miss you (and your parents) lots! Come back to Australia, okay?
Another special mention goes to my mate Lindsey, who I met at a party during my first week in Boulder. She met me, decided I was cool because I was from Wollongong (as fate would have it, she was going to my university the following semester for her own study abroad) then took me on a wild night out, which cemented our friendship for years to come. When I returned to travel the U.S.A is 2012, Lindsey offered us up her family home, and we even went to Vail, CO with her parents, Jan & Dave, while she had to stay in Denver to move house. Lindsey, give my love to your family!
THE BOULDER BOYS
I couldn’t write about the importance of travel friendships without mentioning my Boulder boys – Matty, Josh, Jarrad & Paul. These guys, all Aussies, were my core group of mates when studying abroad in Boulder, CO, and I couldn’t have gotten through the semester without them. When you are studying abroad, it is important to meet people who come from the place you’ve chosen to go, but it is also important (I believe) to surround yourself with like-minded people who are looking for the same experiences as you. While we all had friends outside this core group, my Boulder boys & I stuck together because we all had a shared interest – getting the most out of our study abroad experience. Whether it was going on hikes in the Rockies, or drinking handles of bourbon before a night out, or planning trips to Las Vegas or the Bahamas, these guys were with me on every step of my journey, and you’ll no doubt read more stories in posts to come about some of the adventures we shared.
THE DALLAS CAMEL
Cam, or Camel as we affectionately renamed him, was a solo traveller that my best mate Carlee & I met at a very small hostel in Dallas, TX. We bonded over a delectable meal of instant ramen, and after discussing our travel plans, we realised that not only were we travelling to the same places over the upcoming weeks, but we were also staying at the same hostels along the way. Boom – instant friendship! Camel was there through some pretty ridiculous adventures (do you remember that night in New Orleans, Cam?) as well as being the mediator between me and Carlee when our silly bickering got out of control (read my tips on how to survive travelling with your best mate here). And let’s not forget our magical trips to the amazing Golden Corral, the best buffet chain in the history of buffet chains. So, thanks Camel for being there, for being a rad person, and for all those incredible travel memories we now share.
OH, THE PEOPLE YOU MEET
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning my good friend and my favourite San Franciscan, Katie. I technically didn’t meet you when I was travelling, but you met me when you were travelling, so it totally counts. None of my trips to San Francisco (or your time in Australia when we lived together at uni) would’ve been the same if I hadn’t known you! You’re an absolute legend.
There are countless others I’ve met on my travels, from ones I didn’t keep in touch with to those I tried and lost touch with. I don’t remember all their names, but I do remember the experiences we shared, and the memories we made. Everyone that you meet on your travels will do doubt have an impact on your trip, and sometimes your entire life, in some way or another. I’m sure you can all list at least a dozen people you’ve met, and remained firm friends with, from a travel experience. Don’t take these people for granted, and don’t ever forget the memories you made together. If you haven’t talked to them in a while, send them a message to say hi, and to remind them of the experiences you’ve shared.
So, here’s a huge shout-out to all of my amazing travel friends, especially the ones I haven’t mentioned here. I’d list you all, but this post would end up being far too long. You know who you are, and I love you all.
P.S. Come visit me – Wollongong is really nice this time of year!